2016 Oct 7
Cancer in Sri Lanka is steadily on the rise. Responsible for nine percent of NCD (Non-Communicable Disease) deaths in the country, Sri Lanka’s cancer trend is similar to that of Western countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Sri Lanka ranks the highest in NCDs in Southeast Asia and the country’s cancer incidence rate has doubled since the eighties.
Understanding that the health services sector requires support to combat the disease and rehabilitate victims, Trail began as a serendipitous coming together of idea and purpose between two friends and colleagues – Sarinda Unamboowe and Nathan Sivagananathan, who, touched by a personal loss to cancer, felt this walk was the most impactful way to help the many others struggling with the disease. Initiated in conjunction with the Colours of Courage Trust, Trail is a charity walk that carries a message of unity and understanding while raising funds in aid of cancer treatment. The walk takes place over 28 days and spans 670 km along the length of the country.
The first walk took place in July 2011, starting from Southern Dondra Head and ending at Northern Point Pedro over the course of 27 days. What began with a goal to raise USD 1 million (An approximate value of LKR 147 Million) to build a cancer treatment unit as part of an extension of the Tellippalai Hospital in Jaffna saw over 30,000 participants and 250,000 donors together raise USD 2.6 million (An approximate value of LKR 382 Million) resulting in an entirely separate cancer hospital being built in the Jaffna peninsula. Since opening its doors in January 2014, the Tellippalai Cancer Hospital has treated over 4,500 patients from the Northern, North Central and Eastern provinces, including diagnosis and treatment for over 2,000 new patients. The 120-bed state-of-the-art cancer facility comprises of dedicated men’s, women’s, and paediatric wards, an outpatient department, pharmacy, emergency treatment area, chemotherapy unit, iodine treatment unit, ultrasound scanner, mobile x-ray unit, auditorium and teaching centre, as well as counselling services. A radiotherapy and brachytherapy centre are also in the making and will be functional in a few short months.
For Sarinda and Nathan, the success of Trail 2011 brought to light the powerful impact created when individuals across the country are united. This set the stage for Trail 2016: The Walk Back.
Mapping the North to the South, they will walk to raise USD 5 Million (An approximate value of LKR 735 Million) to build a new cancer unit at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital in Galle. The 28 day walk from Point Pedro in Jaffna to Dondra Head in Matara has begun, following the opening ceremony which was held on the 6th of October at St. Xavier Sports Ground in Jaffna. The walk will cover 28 townships – including Kodikaman, Mankulam, Madawachchiya, Galgamuwa, Kurunegala, Kochchikade, Colombo, Panadura and Seenigama. According to the official Trail website, approximately USD 1.5 Million (LKR 220 Million) has already been raised, while over 2,000 donors and 800 walkers having registered for the event thus far. Trail 2011 saw Rs. 7.6 Million collected from enthusiastic and generous Sri Lankans who gathered on the wayside to donate their day’s earnings or till collections towards our collective goal to fight against cancer as one nation. The Sri Lankan Government has pledged to match every dollar raised through this initiative.
Trail will travel a distance of approximately 25 km each day and is open to the public. Walkers can still join Trail 2016 for either a 3-day period, a single day, or to walk through a city or town depending on their capabilities. This year’s participants also include Brand Ambassadors such as pop idols Bathiya and Santhush, cricketers Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, Sri Lankan born Bollywood actress Jacqueline Fernandez and celebrated entrepreneur Otara Gunawardene among many other popular personalities, who have committed to join the walk at various stages.
The public can also still contribute towards the cause by donating to a walker, donating supplies towards the construction itself, buying Trail merchandise or donating offline via a bank transaction or Dialog/Mobitel mobile transaction. All proceeds will go only towards the building of the cancer unit at the Karapitiya Teaching Hospital, which has recorded its highest number of cancer related deaths in 2015. The hospital has also seen a dramatic influx of patients who travel from surrounding provinces to seek treatment; patients coming not only from the southern districts of Galle, Matara and Hambantota but also from areas as far as Badulla and Kalutara. Catering to a population of 6 million, one of the biggest obstacles faced by the hospital is the overcrowding of all units. It is in dire need of an expansion as it is currently unable to meet the requirements of these patients. The proposed building will give patients more ward space and other facilities including counselling rooms, rehabilitation and recreation facilities as well as new radiology and pathology labs.
Trail 2016 has come to life thanks to a series of corporate partnerships which have not only provided monetary support but also provided assistance for the walk itself; Dialog Axiata along with MAS Holdings, Akbar Brothers, A&E, JWT Sri Lanka, Capital Maharaja Group, Showtown Entertainment and Sri Lankan Airlines are on board as Platinum Sponsors. Also included as a Platinum Sponsor is the Royal College Union (RCU) who has pledged to raise Rs. 50 million to donate a Children’s Ward for the proposed cancer unit. Other corporates have pledged their contribution towards the effort by way of providing their services throughout the walk; for example, water will be provided along the route at every 5 km, food will be provided at the starting point as well as at every 10km, 15km, 20km and finishing points, security will be provided for walkers along the route while ambulances from project 1990 and St. John’s Ambulances will be on hand in case of an emergency.
Bearing the reputation of being a genuine project spearheaded by two individuals with no corporate label to it, the Trail fundraising model is designed to ensure that whatever the activity may be – be it fundraising, an event or the walk itself, it is always a collective effort – each fundraiser, donor and sponsor, along with the doctors and experts of the hospital, and the Government of Sri Lanka will help see this dream fulfilled. The organizers reiterate that it is still not too late for anyone to join the cause. Members of the public can donate to Trail 2016 via Dialog SMS, Star Points, eZ cash, Mobitel Mcash or through the official website www.trailsl.com It is also possible to make a direct deposit to Colours of Courage Trust (Guarantee) Limited, Account Number 00301049171, Hatton National Bank (SWIFT CODE – HBLILKLX).
Further, the following mechanisms could be used for convenient transactions via Dialog Network. For,
SMS – Type
Trail<space><donation amount> and send to 77100 from any Dialog Postpaid or Prepaid connection. The minimum and maximum donation limits by each SMS is Rs.5/= and Rs.2, 500/= respectively. Amounts exceeding Rs. 2,500/= could be sent by a new SMS. The donated amount will be added to the monthly bill of Postpaid customers and will be deducted from the available balance of Prepaid customers.
Dial #111#, select Institute Payments , enter your eZ Cash PIN, enter COCT, enter account number 1234, enter amount and confirm.
Dial #141*5# and select “Trail” and donate the points.
OR Visit any Dialog Customer Care Center and make your donation. (Dialog Customer Care Centres at Arpico – Hyde Park & Wattala, Keels – Rajagiriya, Thalawathugoda and BIA excluded)
The progress of the walk can now be followed at;
Twitter: @TrailSL / Instagram: @trail_sl / Snapchat: @trailsl